Supreme Court Lifts Block on Trump Asylum Restrictions

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration’s restrictions on asylum claims at the southern border to take effect, temporarily lifting a federal judge’s nationwide injunction issued in July.

The policy, announced July 16, generally makes people who arrive at the southern border ineligible for asylum unless they first sought asylum in a country they passed through on their way to the United States. A collection of immigrants’ rights groups immediately challenged the policy and on July 24 a federal judge in California blocked it from going into effect.

The Trump administration appealed, while at the same time asking the Ninth Circuit to stay the injunction as the case went forward. The Ninth Circuit limited the scope of the injunction in August, and then again on Wednesday after the federal judge bucked the initial stay and reinstated the nationwide injunction.

But the Supreme Court stepped in later Wednesday and totally lifted the injunction in a one-paragraph, unsigned order released Wednesday afternoon. The stay on the injunction will remain in effect until the court either declines to hear the case or makes a final decision on the merits.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, calling the government’s request for the high court to lift the injunction “extraordinary.” She faulted the Trump administration for skirting normal administrative procedures when it issued the rule and her colleagues for jumping into the case while it is still working through the appeals process.

“By granting a stay, the court simultaneously lags behind and jumps ahead of the courts below,” Sotomayor wrote. “And in doing so, the court sidesteps the ordinary judicial process to allow the government to implement a rule that bypassed the ordinary rulemaking process. I fear that the court’s precipitous action today risks undermining the interbranch governmental processes that encourage deliberation, public participation and transparency.”

Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney who is handling the case for the plaintiffs, said the Supreme Court’s move is not the end of the case.

“This is just a temporary step and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day,” Gelernt said in a statement. “The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

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